This week we journey to one of our favorite places on the globe – the breathtakingly beautiful Highlands of Scotland. A vast, unspoilt region of spectacular scenery, the Highlands have long drawn nature lovers and history enthusiasts (like us!) to its rugged peaks, ancient glens and mystical lochs. One of its most famous – and luckily, most accessible – sights is the enchanting glen of Coe.
The remains of an extinct supervolcano, Glen Coe is surrounded by wild and precipitous mountains. The entrance, approached from the east on highway A82, is marked by Buachaille Etive Mòr, a pyramidal peak known as the “herdsman of the Etive”, a reference to its location at the intersection of Glen Coe and nearby Glen Etive. Buachaille Etive Mòr is followed to the west by Buachaille Etive Beag, then by the so-called Three Sisters, shoulders of the Bidean nam Bian massif which itself marks the western end of the glen. By contrast, the north side of the glen is a stark wall of mountain, the Aonach Eagach ridge, crossed at the eastern end by the Devil’s Staircase, an old military road today used as a hiking and biking path. To the north of Buachaille Etive Mòr lies Beinn a’Chrulaiste. The western end terminates with the conical Pap of Glencoe, above Glencoe village (site of the horrific Massacre of Glencoe, in which 78 members of Clan MacDonald were murdered or lost to the elements after a surprise attack by their guests – the Earl of Argyll’s Regiment of Foot – in February 1692), at the point where the glen opens out onto Loch Leven. The glen is 700 meters (0.4 miles) wide (at its narrowest point) and 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) long.
B., a former resident of Scotland, has visited Glen Coe half a dozen times; we made our first journey there together in April of 2012, on our way to Loch Ness and the distilleries of Speyside. B. captured the photographs below – primarily featuring the ridges of Gearr Aenoch and Aonach Dubh on the south side of Glen Coe Pass – while on a winter road trip through the Highlands several months earlier, in January. The last three photographs were taken on B.’s first journey to the glen in July 2009.
The next morning, after a dusting of snow, this breathtaking glen somehow became even more magical.
A summer visit offers a completely different – yet no less stunning – view of the glen.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure! – T.& B. June
Next week’s journey: Essaouira – Morocco